With the 2014 season on the horizon, teams have been working hard this offseason to get the players that will help them win next year’s Super Bowl. One team that has taken on a lot of media coverage this offseason are the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland has never had a Super Bowl win and has been looked as a team that has been one of the worst in the past 15 years since their return to the city. The difference this year is the idea that the Browns’ new general manager and coaches may be finally starting to get things turned around and make a bid at the glorious Lombardi Trophy.
Many NFL analysts have talked about how the league is changing into a passing league, but is it really? Teams that do finally hoist up that precious trophy have a common thread, a great defense and a run game that opens up the pass. The Seattle Seahawks proved this last year with having the “Legion of Boom” shutting down the pass, Marshawn Lynch forcing the defenses to stay honest to the pass, and a quarterback that is able to work with the receivers that he had. Of course you have exceptions to the rule such as Green Bay, but at the end of the day, even they have had great defenses.
The Cleveland Browns did just that this offseason by building up the defensive side of the ball. With free agency grabs of Karlos Dansby and Donte Whitner, the Browns’ looked for quality players to also play a leadership role as well. Then in the draft, the Browns took Justin Gilbert and Pierre Desir at corner back and Christian Kirksey at linebacker. With a team that already ranked in the top 10 during 2013, the Browns are looking to getting that elite pass defense with these new players and Joe Haden, Buster Skrine, and Tashaun Gipson.
The next area that has struggled for the Browns has been their offense in general. Teams that have won the Super Bowl have needed a top running back, and a quarterback that has the ability to work with the receivers available. The Browns addressed the running game by grabbing the top free agent in Ben Tate and drafting Terrence West in the third round who will probably get a lot of attempts in this new Kyle Shanahan offense. They addressed another piece of the running game is the blocking. The Browns were able to land Paul McQuistan from the former Super Bowl champions and drafted a tough guard in Joel Bitonio. With two Pro Bowlers in Alex Mack and Joe Thomas, the offensive line could be one of the top in the league.
The last area that makes a Super Bowl team is the quarterback that is able to work with what wide receivers are given to him. The Browns have not been able to get this position right in the last 15 years. This year has been different with the “Manzielmania” that Cleveland has experienced after drafting Johnny Manziel. Manziel has been compared to Robert Griffin III, but still needs to prove that he has what it takes to be a starting rookie quarterback over veteran Brian Hoyer. With the loss of Josh Gordon inevitable, Manziel will have to look at a group of receivers that consists of older veterans (Miles Austin, Nate Burleson) and young unproven talent (Travis Benjamin, Andrew Hawkins, Earl Bennett). Manziel will also have a Pro Bowl tight end in Jordan Cameron to throw to as well. If Manziel gets the help from the running game and the offensive line, he will sure dazzle fans with his ability to make plays out of nothing and straight to the playoffs.
I am not saying that the Browns are going to win the Super Bowl next year, but I do see that they are making the necessary improvements to have a shot. Browns’ fans should realize that this new owner is trying to make a winning team now and not in 10 years. Jimmy Haslam wants to bring in guys that want to be in Cleveland and want to win, now. The Browns may not resemble the Cowboys of the 1990’s or the 1985 Chicago Bears, but with a little luck, they possibly could have a shot at winning football’s greatest game.